We previously noticed that a nation’s leader greatly influences the behavior of that nation’s people; that a nation’s leader should not always be followed; and that, ultimately, all leadership is from God. This week, let us continue this study by noticing 3 other points of interest in regard to national leadership.
God uses leaders. God often used leaders of nations to accomplish His ultimate purpose. For instance, God used Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, and God used the seed line of David to bring His Son into this world. However, God also uses wicked leaders to accomplish His will. Consider the Pharaoh under whose reign the Israelites left Egypt. Paul wrote, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth” (Rom. 9:17). This is not evidence of predestination, but of God’s use of a leader to bring about His will. Pharaoh had a choice to obey God or disobey Him, but, either way, God was using Him to accomplish His ultimate goal of leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. If Pharaoh had chosen to obey God, then he would have been one of God’s tools by which Israel was freed from captivity. As it was, Pharaoh disobeyed God, and he still was one of God’s tools by which Israel was freed from captivity. God used wicked Assyria and its leaders to bring judgment on the northern kingdom of Israel, and He later used Nebuchadnezzar and the wicked nation of Babylon to bring judgment on the southern kingdom of Judah. Neither of these nations escaped unpunished for their wickedness, since they did not repent of such, but God still used them for His purpose. There can be no doubt; God has used and still uses national leaders to accomplish His will. Some of the leaders are righteous leaders, and some are not, yet all are used providentially by God to bring about His will in the affairs of mankind. Such is the power of our Almighty God.
God humbles leaders. History abounds with examples of wicked, prideful leaders that refused to submit to Jehovah, only to have themselves embarrassingly humbled by God. Again, consider Pharaoh. Regarding this Pharaoh, God told Moses, “And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go” (Exo. 3:19-20). God knew Pharaoh would choose to disobey Him, but He told Moses that He was going to humble Pharaoh, and God’s will would be done. Consider mighty Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Daniel records, “The king [Nebuchadnezzar, ccd] spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). Nebuchadnezzar had allowed his pride to fool him into thinking his own power had made him great, and yet the next 2 verses of Daniel 4 record, “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” And, sure enough, Nebuchadnezzar was humbled—“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (vv. 34-35). Herod learned the hard way that God can quickly humble a ruler. Luke records, “And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:21-23). There is no question that God has often displayed His power and ability to humble prideful, wicked rulers.
God makes rulers. God makes rulers, and He makes them out of what would seem to man as the most unlikely of people. Consider Moses. Moses was brought up in the house of Pharaoh, and yet he was the one who would later lead the Israelites out of Pharaoh’s captivity. Also, think of David. Here was a shepherd boy, obviously not the most likely to be chosen to be king over God’s great nation. In fact, David was the last one anyone present thought would be chosen (see 1 Sam. 6:1-13). Yet, God knew David’s heart (cf. Acts 13:22), and God knew that David would be great, not because David was such an able man, but because God was with him and would make him a great leader. Jesus Himself stated, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” (Matt. 20:26). Even today, God often takes humble, serving people and makes great leaders. Make no mistake about it, God can take the most unlikely of men and make great leaders out of them.
As was mentioned in closing last week, whether or not we should “follow the leader” depends very much on who the leader is and where he is leading. It is quite difficult to convey adequately the importance of having good leadership, whether in the home, the church, or a nation. With our national presidential election just around the corner, we ought to think about these things in regard to how we cast our votes. As Christians, it is not a matter of politics or the economy, but it is a matter of choosing a national leader who will lead us most in accordance with God’s will. And, may we never, ever forget, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Pro. 14:34).
[Article written by Chad Dollahite, taken from Bremen Church of Christ (Bremen, GA) bulletin]